Page is loading...
Print Logo Logo
Aviation lawyers

Aviation and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Owning, operating or chartering business aircraft requires an assessment of complicated and interconnected rules and regulations. We provide the sound legal advice you need to protect the ownership or use of this high-value asset.

Risk management is the first order of business. We work with you to structure your aircraft operation or acquisition with the most advantageous insurance coverage, tax strategies and compliance plan. We draft the necessary policies to cover personal use, private charters, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, as well as SEC reporting and related issues.

Our Aviation Practice Group attorneys are also knowledgeable about and interested in the world of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as drones or unmanned aircraft systems. Barnes & Thornburg attorneys have been working steadily with clients as this new technology has taken flight and currently work with companies, universities, manufacturers and developers to find ways to advance the operation of UAVs for commercial use in a number of industries.

Clients are looking for answers and guidance in this rapidly evolving field. We provide a deep bench of talent in UAV-related areas, including agricultural and food processing, environmental, pipeline, higher education, federal relations, military, law enforcement, aerospace and national security. We develop comprehensive solutions for the use of UAVs, commonly known as drones, no matter what your company's position is in the UAV development or supply chain.

Barnes & Thornburg attorneys can help you develop a legally compliant UAV program, assist you with development of UAV technology and applications, protect your intellectual property and help you stay abreast of the latest legal developments.

FAA and Regulatory Experience

Unlike many firms, we have counsel with notable experience in FAA and aviation regulations and matters. Our experienced aviation tax attorneys can assist you with the unique planning aspects of federal, state and local taxes that apply to owning and operating an aircraft. A plan to properly comply with applicable depreciation, personal/entertainment use, sales/use tax, personal property tax and other aviation taxes, can significantly enhance the value of your transportation asset.

The aircraft and transportation industries are highly regulated. We have a handle on the latest Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and Patriot Act requirements. You can also count on our experienced attorneys to assist with international and multi-country operations and registrations.

The ownership or operation of an aircraft is unlike any other business asset - you must plan ahead to address unique risk management issues and stay on top of various federal and state regulatory requirements and tax liabilities. We offer you comprehensive legal guidance on:

  • Aircraft transactions
  • Personal use of business aircraft
  • FAA & DOT regulations
  • Aircraft financing
  • Risk management
  • International operations
  • Airport operations
  • Litigation
  • International, federal, state and local tax

UAV Experience

Our UAV experience includes representing:

  • A developer and manufacturer of UAV platforms and control systems for military, law enforcement and civilian/industrial applications
  • A developer, tester and operational deployer of advanced Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems in the UAV industry
  • A client as a potential supplier to a global internet services and products company. Client is proposing to supply tethered UAV balloon devices as an alternative to satellites in providing Internet access to remote areas of the world.
  • A client in the UAV field handling export controls issues that impact the export of UAVs
  • An energy pipeline company exploring the use of UAVs for inspection of their pipelines as part of their regulatory duty to inspect this infrastructure
  • Media companies in analyzing the viability and legality of using UAVs for broadcast video and use on the web
  • A client regarding government procurement contracts for non-manned aircraft and specialized aircraft for military contracts

Practice Leaders

Todd Dixon

Todd A. Dixon

Aviation Practice Group Chairperson

Grand Rapids, Indianapolis

P 616-742-3959

F 616-742-3999

Mary Comazzi

Mary E. Comazzi

Aviation Practice Group Vice-Chairperson

Southeast Michigan, Grand Rapids

P 734-489-8019

F 734-489-8002


Contact Us


  • {{experienceSet.Content}} {{experienceSet.OccuredDateString}} Read More



{{Office.LocationName}}{{', '}}

P {{resultSet.Phone}}

M {{resultSet.Mobile}}

No Search Results Found


Contact Us
Trending Connect
We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By clicking any link on this page you are giving your consent for us to use cookies.